By Doug Kelly, CEO of the American Edge Project

The United States and China are locked in a high-stakes competition for global technology supremacy, with artificial intelligence (AI) being a critical battlefield. This revolutionary technology is not only transforming our daily lives and businesses, but when fully matured, AI will reshape entire industries and help solve urgent global challenges like climate change and medical breakthroughs.

The stakes are high: the winner of the AI race will earn a decades-long military and economic advantage, and extensive geopolitical influence. Here are the top reasons why America must triumph in this AI race against China.


  1. National Security: AI technology has far-reaching applications for national security, including strengthening cybersecurity defenses, streamlining intelligence analysis, enabling autonomous military systems, and assisting in counter-terrorism efforts. Should China become the world leader in AI, it may acquire a strategic edge over the United States (and our allies) in military prowess, intelligence gathering, and code breaking.


  1. Economic Competitiveness: By revolutionizing various industries and boosting economic growth and productivity, AI is projected to have a $7 trillion economic impact in the next 10 years. The country that leads in AI development and deployment will have a massive competitive edge in global markets, allowing it to reap trillions in economic benefits, accelerate domestic innovation, and ensure robust new job creation.


  1. Global Influence: The winner of the AI race will significantly shape global norms. America champions technology as a means to empower individuals, expand opportunities, promote the free flow of information, and spread democratic values. However, China exploits technology to enforce government control and censorship. If China dominates AI, it may undermine global freedom by spreading “digital authoritarianism” to numerous countries.


  1. Ethical Leadership: The United States must emerge as the AI leader to ensure that technology is used responsibly and ethically. By doing so, America can counterbalance China’s deployment of technology for mass surveillance, internet censorship, social credit scoring, minority suppression, and intellectual property theft. AI leadership by the United States will help advance our democratic values and human rights across the globe.


  1. Innovation, Scientific Progress, and Opportunity: American AI leadership will spur innovation and breakthroughs, positioning the nation to tackle pressing challenges like disease cures, education, and hunger. By democratizing education and knowledge access, AI can also empower individuals with limited resources, bridge social and economic gaps, and foster a more equitable world with opportunities for all.


Winning the AI race for America requires a concerted effort from our governments and private sector. The private sector is doing its part. After spending tens of billions of dollars in AI research and development, now more than 500 AI tech startups, as well as established companies, are racing to market with their various transformational AI products in healthcare, manufacturing, finance, education, energy, and dozens of other sectors.

Unfortunately, even in this early stage of AI development, some federal agencies and state governments, as well as European allies, are already targeting AI with restrictive regulations. In fact, Italy has banned some of these AI tools completely, while other countries are considering similar actions. This short-sighted approach will inadvertently benefit authoritarian regimes who are racing to beat America in this emerging tech field, while damaging AI efforts by American companies.

We’ve faced this situation before. In the early days of the internet, lawmakers wisely adopted a hands-off, longer-term approach. This led to strong growth and a thriving internet economy, which has grown at 22% annually since 2016, contributed $2.45 trillion to the U.S. economy, and helped tens of millions of small businesses survive the pandemic. Imagine the negative impact if short-sighted regulations had dictated the formative years of the internet.

Bottom line: it matters greatly which country builds the future. We can win this race by accelerating domestic technology innovation, reducing regulatory barriers, and checking China’s global ambitions. Policymakers in American and our allied nations need to get this one right.